MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) hosted at Spokane Falls Community College is excited to share their second year of supporting students on campus. MESA hosts a physical study and lounge center, events, and academic advising for students from underrepresented populations, such as students of color, females, and first-generation college students looking to pursue Bachelor’s degrees in calculus-based STEM programs. Students submit a free application to the MESA program before undergoing an intake meeting, and if eligible become a MESA Scholar for their time at SFCC. To date, SFCC hosts over 90 students in their program, meeting the state goal of 85-100 students.
MESA’s first 2018-2019 cohort saw 12 students apply and transfer to their first transfer institution of choice. These institutions include Eastern Washington University, University of Idaho, Washington State University, Whitworth University, and Western Washington University in engineering, math, and life science programs. Students shared that having a place to feel connected to other students and staff on campus helped their retention in STEM academics, along with a safe outlet to ask questions and learn about degree paths to certain potential careers. 55 MESA Scholars returned to SFCC’s campus Fall 2019 to continue their studies. 8 students from MESA’s Scholar 18-19 list have not returned to their studies due to finances or personal decisions.
Active MESA Scholars continue to partake in academic study sessions, peer connections, advisement on course and transfer plans, and career exploration. This fall, students will learn from three professionals in nuclear engineering, marine ecology, and computer science as speakers on SFCC’s campus to gain engagement and personal connections to STEM professions, in addition to planning out their academic plans. One support many community college students need is 3+ year course plans to ensure math sequence completion and effective transfer coursework, in addition to factoring in external work or family schedules.
We have created a warm environment on SFCC campus to help students find study teams, alleviate financial burdens by supplying school supplies and textbooks, and developed an online orientation for students to explore transfer institutions (including necessary application materials and timelines), their own academic success, and to feel connected to their potential future careers. MESA Scholars we have seen so far need guidance learning higher education terminologies and program plans and how these connect to their futures. Students also learn self-advocacy and how to seek out connections when they undergo transfer shock at different and larger institutions. MESA and SFCC continues to work hard to support students and provide spaces for safe questions.